How To Turn On Two Factor Authentication For Online Services
Update 12/28/18; A new post with specific information for Twitter can be found at How To: Turn On 2 Factor Auth Twitter
UPDATE 12/25/18: A new post with specific information for Facebook can be found at How To: Turn On 2 Factor Auth Facebook.
UPDATE 8/25/16: Comedian Leslie Jones, of Ghostbusters fame, was just hacked. The bad guys, it is believed, got access to her icloud account where they found pictures of her drivers license, passport and some nude photos. They proceeded to then access her website and post all of those pictures to her site. The result is that her site has been taken offline, and her personal and VERY PRIVATE information, has now been made public. This is just another example as to why you need to be using Two Factor Authentication.
One thing you can do secure an online account is to activate Two-Factor authentication, if the site offers the option. Twitter, Facebook, Google, Dropbox, iCloud, and most online email services offer two-factor authentication. With two-factor authentication, when you try to log into your account, you will receive a message (could be text or email) with a code that you must enter before being able to access your account. Yep, I know that means you need to have your cell phone with you or be online to access your email, and it means that you will need to jump through more hoops so that you can access each account you set up with two-factor authentication, but this will help secure your account. The following post is about How To Turn On Two Factor Authentication For Online Services.
The two factor authentication works by using something you know (your password) plus something you have (either email or text message) to prevent anyone who doesn’t have both parts from accessing your account. Over the years there have been many examples as to why you would want to use two factor authentication, from know compromises of Time Warner Cable, to the Gmail account hack, to the leaking of pictures and information from iCloud (the one that included many nudes of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Mary Elizabeth Winstead). No matter if you have or don’t have nude pictures posted to any online service, you want to take steps to secure your online accounts.
The following steps will help you turn on two-factor authentication for a number of online services.
To set this up, visit My AppleID.
- Click “Manage your Apple ID”
- Select “Password and Security”
- Select “Two-Step Verification” to set up the process.
Visit your your account’s settings page on Twitter
- Select “Security and privacy”
- You can now select “Login verification” and select to either have the log in code sent to your phone as a text message or as a message to your phones Twitter app.
Google was one of the first major services to make two-factor authentication (it calls it “2-Step Verification”) widely available. If you want to read the Google explanation for 2-step verification you can go to the landing page that explains two-factor authentication generally. To set up 2-step verification
- Go to the Google settings page for configuring it across various Google services. Click Start Setup
- On the next page, you will get prompted for the phone number to use. You can also select if you want a text message or a recorded code via a phone call.
- Once you enter your phone number, you will receive the text or recorded code. Enter that code on the verification page.
- At this point, you will get a choice to set up the computer you are currently on as a “Trusted computer”. I would recommend allowing a trusted computer that only you use.
- Lastly you will be asked to confirm that you want to turn on 2-step verification.
Facebook calls its two-factor authentication “Login Approvals,” and it allows you to use a mobile app to generate authentication codes while offline. To enable “Login Approvals”
- Go to the Security section of your account settings. Click Edit in the Login Approvals section
- You can now check the box to “Require a security code….”
- You will now see a small pop up explaining how login approvals work. Go ahead and click “Get Started”
- You will now see a message that says that they can’t message landlines or Google Voice. Click continue
- At this point you will be asked to enter your Facebook Password.
- Once you enter your password, you will be prompted to enter your cell phone number
- Once entered you will receive a text message with a confirmation code, enter that code on the box that follows
- Finally you will see the message informing you that Login Approvals Setup is Complete.
Your Facebook account now have 2-Factor Authentication.
Dropbox has a very clear tutorial on enabling two-factor authentication within that site, and supports authentication over SMS or over any of the popular authentication apps. You can enable the option in the Security section of your account settings, and it will require an authentication code whenever you sign into Dropbox on a new device or computer
Storing your emergency backup code
Before enabling two-step verification, you’ll receive a special 16-digit backup code. It is very important that you write this key down and store it somewhere safe. If you ever lose your phone, or can’t receive or generate a security code, you’ll need this backup code for emergency access to your Dropbox.
Enable two-step verification
- Sign in to the Dropbox website.
- Click on your name from the upper-right of any page to open your account menu.
- Click Settings from the account menu and select the Security tab, or click here for a shortcut.
- Under Two-step verification section, click Enable.
Enable two-step verification
- Click Get started.
- For security reasons, you’ll be asked to re-enter your password to enable two-step verification. Once you do, you’ll be given the choice to receive your security code by text message or to use a mobile app.
- After enabling the feature, consider adding a second phone number that can receive text messages as well. If you ever lose your primary phone, you’ll be able to receive a backup security code to that number instead.
Use text messages
If you choose to receive your security codes by text message, you’ll need a phone capable of receiving text messages (carrier rates may apply). Whenever you successfully sign in to Dropbox using your password, a text message containing a security code will be sent to your phone. To enable this option:
- Select Use text messages during the two-step verification setup.
- Enter the phone number where you’d like to receive text messages.
- Enter your phone number
- You’ll be sent a security code by text message. Verify your phone number and enable two-step verification by entering this code when prompted.
Use a mobile app
Several mobile apps are available that will generate a unique time-sensitive security code you can use to finish signing in to your Dropbox account. Any app that supports the Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) protocol should work, including the following:
- Google Authenticator (Android/iPhone/BlackBerry)
- Duo Mobile (Android/iPhone)
- Amazon AWS MFA (Android)
- Authenticator (Windows Phone 7)
To use one of these apps:
- Select Use a mobile app during the two-step verification setup.
- You can choose to either scan the barcode (if your app supports it) or click enter your secret key manually to be given a secret key you can type into the app.
- Scan the barcode or enter a secret key manually
- Once your app is configured, you’ll need to enter a security code generated by your authenticator app to verify setup and enable two-step verification.
Most apps will generate security codes even when cellular/data service is not available – useful when traveling or where coverage is unreliable.
Microsoft has a FAQ page for two-factor authentication with details of how it works with Microsoft services. Keep in mind that with a single Microsoft account one can access an Outlook inbox, devices like the Xbox console or Surface tablet, and of course Skype. To turn on two-factor authentication for Microsoft
- Under Password and security info, tap or click Edit security info.
- Under Two-step verification, tap or click Set up two-step verification.
- Tap or click Next, and then follow the instructions.If you need to add or verify any security info before you can turn on two-step verification, we’ll prompt you with a few simple steps to do so.
I turned on two-step verification. How do I sign in to apps or devices that don’t accept security codes?
Some apps (like the mail apps on some smartphones) or devices (like the Xbox 360, for example) can’t prompt you to enter a security code when you try to sign in. If you get an incorrect password error with an app or device, you’ll need to create a unique app password to sign in. Once you’ve signed in with your app password, you’re all set to use that app or device. You’ll need to create and sign in with an app password once for each app or device that can’t prompt you for a security code.
- Sign in to your Microsoft account.
- Under Password and security info, tap or click Edit security info.If you’re prompted for a security code here, enter it and tap or click Submit.
- Under App passwords, tap or click Create a new app password.A new app password is generated and appears on your screen.
- Switch to the app or device for which you need the password, and enter the app password displayed on the screen